If habits were not that hard to break, you couldn’t hold onto the good ones either. Can you imagine being really good at something like building or playing an instrument? Suddenly, you cannot figure out what seemed natural only moments ago?
Habits are simply our ability to learn and become emotionally bonded to a way of thinking and doing something, so it becomes second nature without effort.
The subconscious brain takes over all repetitive tasks.
So how does one break a bad habit? By following the same rules that formed it in the first place. The following rules can guide you into undoing disempowering habits and replacing them with empowering ones.
5 Steps to help break the bad and form the good!
1.Build compelling reasons why that habit needs to stop. This is the time to do away with the denial of how this is affecting the quality of your life.
Start with noting in detail all the actions, emotions and thoughts that typical cycle around this habit. Gather enough insight here so you can ask yourself, “What must I believe for me to think, feel and act this way?” If you do this correctly, you should be able to list several beliefs that are the reasons why you would think, feel and act that way. The absurdity of these beliefs will serve as shock therapy to help jolt you out of outdated bad habits.
List every consequence and missed opportunity you can connect to the bad habit. If you don’t build an emotionally compelling purpose that justifies why that habit has to go, it will stay put!
For example, if the habit is smoking, list the all the negative health, social and confidence ramifications it has on your life. Magnify the consequences by imagining as if the habit continued for 5, 10 and even 20+ years to truly grasp how bad its most likely going to get for you.
2.Find an alternate good habit after you have built a compelling reason to value it. The same rules apply for moving out of a habit as it is for moving into a new empowering one. This new habit is to replace the old habit’s consequences with the pleasures of the new. Make an extensive list of every reason and reward you can imagine that will compel you to want to form this new habit.
For example, you may take up a hobby, sport or begin reading and writing about a topic you have always had a deep interest and passion for. No point creating a void and not replacing it with something that can captivate your attention and engage your intentions.
3.Find a way to reinforce your purpose and new habit. As you dissociate the old habit from your true identity, you are now aiming to build your purpose around an improved version of your personality that is more empowered and can better serve your values and aspirations.
List your values and principles that are going to be your core drivers. Get literate with their definitions and intimate with how they can express through you. Get a dictionary and start imagining the way it can be. There are hundreds and hundreds of values like; dynamic, agile, fit, respect, trust, adventure, power and the list goes on. If you value it, it’s a value!
Put in place exciting rewards that you personally value and make sure you gift yourself when you reach your milestones. Remember that repetition is a key to all habits. So you want to persist long enough until it becomes second nature.
You can gift yourself a massage, gold class movie, fishing trip or whatever treat you always seem to struggle to get around to justifying you have earned or deserve. Make sure the rewards are affordable and inspiring enough to motivate you enough to want to earn and enjoy them.
4.Choreograph your environment so you are not tempted in the most volatile part of the transitioning process – the initial change starts off uncertain and needs every ounce of support you can arrange.
Doing an environmental audit, identifying what will support and what will tempt you to regress, will help you better plan a successful transition from the bad to the good.
If certain friends or associates smoke, either avoid them for 6 – 8 weeks if possible, or deliberately stay away from the places they light up. Then schedule activity with people who don’t smoke to help you stay focused and away from temptation.
5.Plan to be resilient. Develop the strength to weather the challenges most potent at the beginning. Rehearse your future in your mind and write about it. Immerse your brain in how rich and exciting your life has become now that the habit is gone.
Phase your progress into your future. In the short term, see how strong and motivated you are. In the medium term, describe how proud and determined you are to continue on with it. In the long term, show how amazing your life has turned out and how grateful you feel. Write as if it’s already happened. Your brain does not know what is real or not. You were tricked into valuing bad habits. So you may as well trick it into good ones!
These steps are not new, but they are incredibly effective. If you can’t dissolve the emotion that keeps you bonded to the old habits, build a compelling reason why they need to go and equally cement emotion into why the new habit needs to form.
You deserve a reinvention and all the rewards that come from it.
George Helou is a Life Coach based in Perth, Western Australia. He is the founder of EP7 – a 7 step Empowered for Purpose personal development process used in coaching, training courses and workshop retreats. He is also the author of two successful books.
He can be contacted through http://www.mindpowercoach.com